Historical capitals of China

Historical capitals of China

The Chinese phrase Four Great Ancient Capitals of China (simplified Chinese: 中国四大古都; traditional Chinese: 中國四大古都; pinyin: Zhōngguó Sì Dà Gǔdū) traditionally refers to Beijing (the current capital of the People's Republic), Nanjing, Luoyang, and Chang'an (Xi'an).

Due to additional evidence discovered since the 1930s, other historical capitals have been included in the list. The later phrase Seven Ancient Capitals of China includes Kaifeng (added in the 1920s as the fifth ancient capital), Hangzhou (the sixth, added in the 1930s), and Anyang (a proposal by numerous archaeologists in 1988, after which it finally became the seventh ancient capital). In 2004, the China Ancient Capital Society officially added Zhengzhou as an eighth due to archaeological finds from the early Shang Dynasty there.


List of historical capitals of China

Historical capitals in use prior to the 20th century.
Historical capitals in use from the 20th century onwards.

In alphabetical order:

  • Anyang was the capital during the Yin period of the Shang Dynasty (estimated between 1600 BC and 1046 BC): called Yin (殷, pinyin: Yīn).
State of Yan (Yen in WG) in Spring and Autumn Period (722-481 BC): called Ji (薊, pinyin: Jì).
Liao Dynasty (907-1125), as a secondary capital: called Yanjing (燕京, pinyin: Yānjīng, "capital of Yan").
Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) from Emperor Shizong until 1215: called Zhongdu (中都, pinyin: Zhōngdū, "central capital").
Yuan Dynasty (1271 to 1368): called Dadu (大都, pinyin: Dàdū, "great capital") in Chinese, Daidu (a direct transliteration from Chinese[1]) in Mongolian and Khanbaliq ("city of the Khan") in the Turkic languages. This was reported as "Cambuluc" by Marco Polo.
Ming Dynasty from the time of the Ming Yongle Emperor (r. 1402/1424) until 1644 called Jīngshī (京師,"capital").
Qing Dynasty from the fall of the Ming in 1644 to the end of the dynasty in 1912.
The Beiyang Government of the Republic of China.
The current capital of the People's Republic of China.
  • Datong (WG: Ta-t'ong) was the capital during Northern Wei Dynasty before moving to Luoyang in 493.
  • Guangzhou (formerly Romanized Canton from CPMR)
Republic of China: it was seat of the National Government before the Northern Expedition, and was briefly the seat of Chiang's ROC government during the Chinese civil war with the Communist Party of China.
  • Hangzhou (also Hangchou or Hangchow) was the capital of:
The Wuyue Kingdom (904-978), during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period.
China during the Southern Song Dynasty: called Lin'an (臨安 Lín'ān).
  • Fenghao was the capital during the Western Zhou Dynasty, located near present day Xi'an.
  • Kaifeng was the capital of various Chinese governments including (sorted chronologically):
Later Liang Dynasty during the Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms.
Later Jin Dynasty during the Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms.
Later Han Dynasty during the Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms.
Later Zhou Dynasty during the Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms.
Northern Song Dynasty: called Dongjing (東京 Dōngjīng).
  • Luoyang was the capital of various Chinese governments including (sorted chronologically):
Eastern Zhou Dynasty
Eastern Han Dynasty from 25 to 220
Kingdom of Wei during the Three Kingdoms.
Western Jin Dynasty
Northern Wei Dynasty since 493, moved its capital from Datong.
Later Tang Dynasty during the Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms.
  • Nanjing (formerly Romanized Nanking (CPMR) or Nanching in WG) was the capital of various Chinese governments including (sorted chronologically):
all of the Six Dynasties: called Jianye (建業 Jiànyè) or Jiankang (建康 Jiànkāng). The Six Dynasties are:
Kingdom of Wu during the Three Kingdoms.
Eastern Jin Dynasty
Liu Song Dynasty
Southern Qi Dynasty
Liang Dynasty
Chen Dynasty
Ming Dynasty before Yongle Emperor moved the capital to Beijing.
Taiping Tianguo (Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace and Prosperity) during the Taiping Rebellion. Known as Tianjing (天京,literally 'Heavenly Capital') between 1853 and its fall in 1864.
Republic of China after the Northern Expedition until the Japanese invasion in 1937 of WWII, and after the war until Chiang Kai-Shek retreated to Taiwan in 1949.
Wang Jingwei's pro-Japanese collaborationist government.
  • Xi'an (WG: Hsi'an; called Chang'an in ancient times) was the capital of various Chinese governments including (sorted chronologically):
Western Zhou Dynasty, also see Fenghao.
State of Qin in the Spring and Autumn Period and the Qin Dynasty 221 BC-207 BC: Xi'an is located near the former Qin capital Xianyang (咸陽 Xiányáng).
Western Han Dynasty from 206 BC to AD 9
Xin Dynasty from 8 to 23
Eastern Han Dynasty
Western Jin Dynasty
State of Former Zhao, a state in the Sixteen Kingdoms period during the Jin Dynasty (265-420).
State of Former Qin from 351 to 394, during the Sixteen Kingdoms period.
State of Later Qin from 384 to 417, during the Sixteen Kingdoms period.
Western Wei Dynasty
Northern Zhou Dynasty
Sui Dynasty from 581 to 618
Tang Dynasty from 618 to 907
  • Ye was the capital of Eastern Wei Dynasty and Northern Qi Dynasty.


Government Capital Period
Xia Song (崇) Gun
Yangcheng (陽城) Yu[2]
Chu (鉏) Yi
Qiongshi (窮石) Yi, Hanzhuo
Zhen (斟) Taikang
Diqiu (帝丘) Xiang
Yuan (原) Zhu
Laoqiu (老丘) Zhu
Xihe (西河) Yinjia
Zhen (斟) Jie
Henan (河南) Jie[3]
Shang Bo (亳) Shang Tang[3]
Fan (蕃) Xie
Dishi (砥石) Zhaoming
Shang (商) Zhaoming
Shangqiu (商邱) Xiangtu
Foot of Mount Tai ("泰山麓") Xiangtu
Shangqiu (商邱) Xiangtu
Yin (殷) Shanghou
Shangqiu (商邱) Yinhou
Bo ("西"亳) Tang
Xiao (囂) Zhongding
Xiang (相) Hedanjia
Xing (邢) Zuyi
Bi (庇) Zuyi
Yan (奄) Nan'geng
Yin (殷) Pan'geng
Zhou (Western) Zongzhou (宗周, Western capital) 1046 BC—771 BC
Chengzhou (成周, Eastern capital) 1046 BC—771 BC
Zhou (Eastern) Chengzhou (成周) 770 BC—367 BC
"Henan" (河南, capital of the Western Zhou State) 367 BC—256 BC
Gong (鞏, capital of the Eastern Zhou State) 367 BC—249 BC
Qin Xiquanqiu (西犬丘)
Pingyang (平陽) —677 BC
Yong (雍) 677 BC—
Jingyang (涇陽) —383 BC
Liyang (櫟陽) 383 BC—250 BC
Xianyang (咸陽) 350 BC—207 BC
Han (Western) Luoyang (雒陽) 202 BC
Liyang (櫟陽) 202 BC—200 BC
Chang'an (長安) 200 BC—8 BC
Xin Chang'an (長安) 8 CE—23 CE
Han (Eastern) Luoyang (雒陽) 25—190
Chang'an (長安) 191—195
Xu (許) 196—220
(Three Kingdoms)
Luoyang (洛陽) 220—265
(Three Kingdoms)
Chengdu (成都) 221—263
(Three Kingdoms)
Jianye (建業) 227—279
Jin (Western) Luoyang (洛陽) 265—313
Chang'an (長安) 313—316
Jin (Eastern) Jiankang (建康) 317—420
(Northern dynasties)
Pingcheng (平城) 386—493
Luoyang (洛陽) 493—534
Ye (鄴, capital of the Eastern Wei State) 534—550
Chang'an (長安, capital of the Western Wei State) 535—557
(Northern dynasties)
Ye (鄴) 550—577
(Northern dynasties)
Chang'an (長安) 557—581
(Southern dynasties)
Jiankang (建康) 420—479
(Southern dynasties)
Jiankang (建康) 479—502
(Southern dynasties)
Jiankang (建康) 502—557
(Southern dynasties)
Jiankang (建康) 557—589
Sui Dongdu (東都) 581—618
Daxing (大興, auxiliary capital) 581—618
Tang Chang'an (長安) 618—690
Zhou Chang'an (長安) 690—705
Tang Chang'an (長安) 705—904
Luoyang (洛陽) 904—907
(Five dynasties)
Dongdu (東都) 907—923
(Five dynasties)
Dongdu (東都) 923—936
(Five dynasties)
Dongjing (東京) 936—947
(Five dynasties)
Dongjing (東京) 947—950
(Five dynasties)
Dongjing (東京) 951—960
Song (Northern) Dongjing (東京) 960—1127
Song (Southern) Lin'an (臨安) 1127—1279
Empire of the Khitan
Shangjing (上京) 907—1120
Nanjing (南京) 1122—1123
Tokmok (虎思斡耳朵) 1134—1218
Jin Shangjing (上京) 1115—1153
Zhongdu (中都) 1153—1214
Nanjing (南京) 1214—1234
Western Xia Xingqing 1038—1227
Shangdu (上都) May 1264 — 1276
Dadu (大都) 1276 — August 1368
Shangdu (上都) August 1368 — 1369
Ming Nanjing (南京) 23 January 1368 — 2 February 1421
Beijing (北京) 2 February 1421 — 25 April 1644
Nanjing (南京) 1644 — 1645
Fuzhou (福州) 1645 — 1646
Zhaoqing (肇慶) 1646 — 25 April 1662
Later Jin Feiala (費阿拉) 1587 — 1603
Hetuala (赫圖阿拉) 1603 — 1619
Jiefan (界凡) 1619 — September 1620
Sarhu (薩爾滸) September 1620 — April 1621
Dongjing (東京) April 1621 — 11 April 1625
Shengjing (盛京) 11 April 1625 — 1636
Qing Shengjing (盛京) 1636 — 20 September 1644
Beijing (北京) 20 September 1644 — 12 February 1912[4]
Republic of China Nanjing (南京) 1 January 1912 — 2 April 1912
(Provisional Government)
Beijing (北京) 2 April 1912 — 30 May 1928
(Beiyang Government)[4]
Fengtian (奉天) 30 May 1928 — 29 December 1928
(Beiyang Government)
Guangzhou (廣州) 1 July 1925 — 21 February 1927
(Guangzhou Nationalist Government)
Wuhan (武漢) 21 February 1927 — 19 August 1927
(Wuhan Nationalist Government)[5]
Nanjing (南京) 18 April 1927 — 20 November 1937
(the Nanjing decade)[4]
Beiping (北平) 9 September 1930 — 23 September 1930
(Beiping Nationalist Government)
Taiyuan (太原) 23 September 1930 — 4 November 1930
(Beiping Nationalist Government)
Guangzhou (廣州) 28 May 1931 — 22 December 1931
(Guangzhou Nationalist Government)
Chongqing (重慶) 21 November 1937 — 5 May 1946
(during the Second Sino-Japanese War)[4]
Nanjing (南京) 30 March 1940 — 10 August 1945
(Wang Jingwei Government)
Nanjing (南京) 5 May 1946 — 23 April 1949[4]
Guangzhou (廣州) 23 April 1949 — 14 October 1949
(during the Chinese Civil War)
Chongqing (重慶) 14 October 1949 — 30 November 1949
(during the Chinese Civil War)
Chengdu (成都) 30 November 1949 — 27 December 1949
(during the Chinese Civil War)
Xichang (西昌) 27 December 1949 — 27 March 1950
(during the Chinese Civil War)
Taipei (臺北) 10 December 1949 — Present
People's Republic of China Beijing (北京) 10 October 1949 — Present

See also


  1. ^ Denis Twitchett, Herbert Franke, John K. Fairbank, in The Cambridge History of China: Volume 6, Alien Regimes and Border States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p 454.
  2. ^ 李玉潔. [2003] (2003). 中國早期國家性質. 知書房出版集團. ISBN 9867938178, 9789867938176.
  3. ^ a b Bamboo annals Xia chapter on Xia Jie under the name Gui (癸).
  4. ^ a b c d e Esherick, Joseph. [2000] (2000). Remaking the Chinese City: Modernity and National Identity, 1900-1950. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0824825187.
  5. ^ Clark, Anne Biller. Clark, Anne Bolling. Klein, Donald. Klein, Donald Walker. [1971] (1971). Harvard Univ. Biographic Dictionary of Chinese communism. Original from the University of Michigan v.1. Digitized Dec 21, 2006. p 134.

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